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Sarasota News Leader January 10, 2014 Page 52 the growing consensus. "This is not something we have to decide today. If there is no buy-in, we won't do it," he said. Then "Mr. Downtown" rose to speak. Paul Thorpe has served on every downtown organization, often as its leader, for three decades. Every parade and festival during that period has his fingerprints on it. "I agree the DID should expand into the central downtown," he said, "from School [Avenue to the east] and the bayfront. Continue your work on Main Street. It's a real Main Street, not a fake like the one at Lakewood Ranch." Thorpe than proposed the DID return to its Ernie Ritz is chairman of the Downtown roots with a community-wide meeting to look Improvement District. Image courtesy City of to the future. "We should discuss this with a Sarasota group of people, like a SEMCON. Let's find PESKY FIVE POINTS LIGHTS out from the public what they want, and what You would think there was a Native American we can do," he added. burial ground under Five Points Park. Nothing "We could have a workshop or a SEMCON," there ever seems to go right. It is the city's said Ritz. "A downtown circulator, Fruitville only park without benches because vagrants Road [designs], expansion of the DID — let's used them. City commissioners ordered them removed (the benches, that is; the vagrants do that." remained), so there is no way to linger in the "I agree with Ernie [about having] a SEMCON. city's downtown park. Otherwise, this is just a scheme to raise Now plans to install lights in the trees are money," noted Hampshire. falling apart. The old system proved a cata"It's not about getting money," said Moran. "It's about identifying projects and then deciding how to get the money to achieve them." strophic failure, leaving a figurative bad taste in the mouths of representatives of organizations and a foundation that initially helped pay for their installation. Moran added that he would bring the board a list of names for creation of a steering committee to begin the lengthy process of organizing another SEMCON. The one in 2008 led to the creation of the DID to satisfy a number of unmet needs downtown. At Tuesday's DID meeting, the conversation turned from who will be installing new lights to who will be removing the old ones. "I'm not going to spend our reserves on this," said Ritz. "You guys are asking for the money and we don't have it." %

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